Monthly Archives: December 2015

Books.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading over this holiday season — finally finishing the excellent Skippy Dies, and halfway through the very long but glorious Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby. Skippy Dies was really quite good — likable, heartbreaking — but I often struggle with books where I can see myself hurtling towards a horrific moment. In Skippy’s case, that moment comes about 50 pages into the books (hardly a spoiler, considering the title), but then time rewinds and the months leading up to his death are replayed.  It’s hard to remember what it was like being a teenager, but my high school years were horrid. My junior year was so bad that I blocked huge portions of it out: I was a mess, and a jerk with it. And Skippy Dies hit that jerky mess perfectly, because I wasn’t a bad kid and neither are these. They’re sweet kids, mostly, who will grow up to be fine adults, and it’s just being a teenager.

Also fine writing. I enjoyed this biting swipe at a particularly unlikeable adult:

‘What is it they’re playing again, Father?’

‘Pachelbel’s Canon in D,’ Father Laughton says, adding, after a moment of internal debate, ‘You might recognize it from the current advertisement for the Citroën Osprey.’

The Automator nods. ‘Quality,’ he comments, settling back in his chair.

Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub is a great palette cleanser, because I like reading about books almost as much as I like reading them and I have a soft spot in my heart for the Believer ANYHOW so it’s perfect. I’m so glad I wasn’t hit with one of the other depressing books currently in my stack. I’ve chomped it down, more than halfway in two days (ok, look, I’ve been working and it’s 500 pages so that’s an achievement) and I’ll be so sad to leave the cozy world of books on books and back into, you know, just books.

IMG_0498

Oh and also I read The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming (a Holiday Story) by Lemony Snicket; my brother wisely deduced that this book was not for the nephew but it cheered me up immensely; the Latke feels lonely and out of place in a sleepy village filled with Christmas decorations — each of whom infuriates him so much he ran away screaming, until he finally finds peace with a Jewish family. Peace, pieces, whatever.
Anyhow, November and December were horrid and 2015 was the pits for so many reasons but now it’s going to be January, going to be a fresh year, fresh moments, fresh tries. So, see you in my inevitable New Year’s earnest post. Mwah.

 

 

 

A week of being grateful.

I thought the blues would pass with November, the lights and cheer of December worming their way into my heart. I drove home from Thanksgiving buoyed by family and love and then almost instantly found myself struggling all over again.

 

December was never going to be a cakewalk this year, but I find myself driving home in tears, thinking about Dad, about tradition, about what it used to be like to pick up the phone and call him. And work is busy and stressful and I think everyone feels more or less the same about December and there’s really not a whole lot of goodwill toward man floating around.

I read a post from a sweetly earnest girl saying “Christmas is what you make it!” which — well, frankly, frankly, UGH. I see those words covered in glitter and lights and hallmark music playing and maybe a lifetime movie through every letter and I get it, I appreciate the sentiment, but ugh. This year Christmas ain’t going to be much. But I don’t really want to give in to that, I want to remember the joy. How do I remember the joy.

On Thanksgiving, my aunt gave me my great-aunt Mary’s christmas tree. Everyone in the family had one, although I think the one we had on Adams Street was green with multicolored lights. I like this one, which speaks so clearly to Aunt Mary: feminine and nostalgic and slightly fussy.IMG_0452

It took a week to unbox it, set it up, and when I did I took a quick picture. “Need all the good memories,” I wrote on instagram. And I do. I need to draw the past around me like a blanket, pick and polish the gems of the present. That little Christmas tree in its 70s glory suits my kitschy little cabin, and it reminded me of gentle Aunt MaryIMG_0093

Growing up, we had peonies in the back garden. They were Mom’s specialty (I don’t know what her favorite flower was, really: the sweet smelling wild colored roses, or the irises, or the zinnias that grew waist high against the house?). They bloomed for her birthday every year, and she’d bring them into the house where we’d inevitably find ants eating away at the sugar coating, letting them unfurl.

IMG_0453This fellow and his enormous big nose. There was a moment in August I thought he’d be gone sooner than I was ready for, gone and gone and I wasn’t ready for that. And then he turned it around, and he’s getting old and I may not have him for much longer but he’s here with me this Christmas, all huge eyes and nose where it shouldn’t be and leaning against me for comfort, for pets, and for the occasional kiss when my face gets too close
IMG_0455

This little clown here lived on Depot St at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandpa had a whole collection of toys, mostly windup. The little godzilla that breathed fire, the eyes on feet, flipping their eyeglasses up and down, the king kong who climbed up and down an empire state building, the little toy plane made out of pressed tin. We used to line them up on parades, and the rest of the time they’d sit on a high shelf, this unassuming collection. I don’t particularly like clowns, but I loved this guy, spinning him endlessly on his bar. His outfit has been darned, his hat superglued on, and still he spins.IMG_0461

A letter from a friend came in the mail last week and I opened it immediately and then savored the reading of it hours later, a treat at the end of a tedious day. Words on paper, a card, a person out there thinking of me, sharing with me. A friend who treasures the same things I do, values the time spent writing, caring.IMG_0456

Grandma’s necklace. She didn’t wear it all the time, but I remember it over many a sensible sweater. Mom gave it to her, a gift from Kuwait. And when Grandma died, it was the only thing I wanted to remember her by. Dad made me promise: never take it off. Wear it every day. And I do. When I’m stressed or sad I find myself fishing it out of my shirt, holding it, not really thinking of them but maybe, somehow, thinking of them.
IMG_0094 My little cabin in the morning, light beams streaming through the window. This place is mine, a space that is only mine, a place I can be alone. I treasure those plays of light through the window, against the wall, on the pages of my book. I treasure every quiet minute there.

 

Seven days, and I don’t really think I felt that much better at the end but you know, I do now, I do for having written it out. Seven days in a long December, at the start of a long winter, and there it is, a hint of the joy of the past and maybe a promise that there are still joys to come.

 

Joyeux Noël.

Back to top